College of Education Class of 2021: ‘You Are the Leaders, Scholars and Educators Our World Desperately Needs’

NC State College of Education graduate Zorida Bennett with her family during the Virtual Graduation Ceremony on May 14, 2021

The NC State College of Education recognized more than 370 graduates during a Virtual Graduation Ceremony on May 14. Below is a recap of the ceremony and activities related to it. 

Number of Graduates: 372 students graduated from the College of Education on May 14, 2021, including 28 doctoral students, 216 master’s students and 128 bachelor’s students.

NC State College of Education graduate Iwinosa O. Idahor ’21PHD

Charge to Doctoral Students: Iwinosa O. Idahor ’21PHD, who earned her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development, delivered the charge to doctoral students, congratulating them for persevering through difficult times and reminding them that their future work will be a catalyst for great impact. She said:

“No matter where life takes us, let us remember that we are bonded by our College of Education experience and let it propel us to truly become the change that we wish to see in our classrooms, communities and the world. Where we will identify problems and we will respond by effectively and empathetically and ethically taking action.”

Charge to Master’s Students: A group of 10 delivered the charge to master’s students, including

NC State College of Education graduate Graham Witherspoon

Graham Witherspoon ’21MSA who said: “Today you bask in the glory of the accomplishment of earning that degree. But understand, tomorrow morning, you go out in this world and you change it for the better.”

NC State College of Education graduate Michael Gross

Michael Gross ’21MED, who said: “At a point in history where hope is needed, I see hope for the future embodied in each of you.”

NC State College of Education graduate Zoraida Bennett


And Zoraida Bennett ’21MSA who said : “Lead equitably. Be efficient with time, be effective with people, don’t confuse the two and, above all, be kind.”

Charge to Undergraduate Students:James Daniels ’21, who earned a Bachelor of Science in middle grades English Language Arts and social studies education and will teach at East Cary Magnet Middle School in the fall, addressed his fellow graduates and reminded them to be proud of what they’ve accomplished and to let love drive their work as they enter the field. He said:

“We live in a society with systems of inequity like racism, sexism, homophobia and others that directly affect the work that we do in education. However, I believe that we are the best, most equipped professionals to not only handle and address these but to stand against these systems of inequity in order to flip the world upside down and change the narrative about the communities that we care about the most with a restorative mindset.”

Dean Mary Ann Danowitz at the May 2021 Virtual Graduation Ceremony

What Dean Mary Ann Danowitz Said: “No matter the path you have chosen to take in the field of education, I urge you to be a champion for educational equity and justice for all, particularly those of color and living in poverty. Never, never waiver from that expectation or role regardless of circumstances. Do embrace your calling as an extraordinary educator and be confident knowing you are poised to build a better world for children, adults and families.”

What the Dean Also Said: “You are the leaders, scholars and educators our world desperately needs, and I know you will work to uplift each and every individual you work with and to advocate for justice for all. I cannot wait to see how you will transform lives, schools and communities for the better.”

The Dean’s Last Words: “I expect you, as an NC State College of Education graduate, to use your work, your leadership, your actions and your voice to staunchly advance educational equity and justice for all. Also, never forget you will always have a home in the College of Education and be part of the Wolfpack.”

A pin worn by NC State College of Education faculty in honor of Lee V. Stiff, Ph.D. says "those who care, teach."

“Those Who Care, Teach” Pins: During the ceremony, faculty wore a pin honoring Lee Vernon Stiff, Ph.D., who passed away this past March. Stiff taught and led in the College of Education for 37 years, retiring in 2020 as professor emeritus of mathematics education and associate dean for faculty and academic affairs. When he was associate dean, Stiff presided over our college’s graduation ceremony. Over the course of his career, he coined the statement: “Those who can, do. And those who care, teach.” That statement is inscribed on the pin that the faculty wore on their academic robes during the ceremony to honor him.

NC State College of Education Dean Mary Ann Danowitz

Pop by Poe: Over 140 College of Education graduates registered for the college’s Pop by Poe event held between Wednesday, May 12, and Thursday, May 13. Students took photos with props, said hello to faculty and staff, and were given T-shirts, goodie bags and cupcakes.

Students pose during the "Pop by Poe" event prior to May 2021 graduation

A t-shirt May 2021 graduates of the NC State College of Education received

Class of 2021 T-shirt: The Class of 2021 T-shirts that students received during Pop by Poe or that will receive in the mail was designed especially for the college’s graduates by graduating technology, engineering, and design education student Chloe Yehee Kim ’21.

Watch the Ceremony